The 21-time Major champion Rafael Nadal remained perfect in 2022 following the first round of the ATP 500 event in Acapulco. Nadal secured his 11th victory from as many matches this season with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over a lucky loser Denis Kudla in the opening round.
A three-time Acapulco champion played his first match following that epic victory over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final. The Spaniard controlled the pace and sailed into the second round in an hour and 16 minutes.
Rafa served at 68% and delivered incredible numbers behind the initial shot. He dropped four points in nine service games and kept the American miles behind break chances. Kudla could not follow that pace in his games, giving away 45% of the points and suffering three breaks to push Nadal into the last 16.
The Spaniard held at love in the encounter's opening game with an ace and placed a forehand down the line winner in the next one for a break chance after a 16-stroke rally.
Rafael Nadal made a winning start in Acapulco.
Denis saved it with a service winner before Rafa earned another opportunity with a forehand winner.
Kudla erased it with an unreturned serve and brought the game home for 1-1. The Spaniard fired another forehand winner in the third game for 2-1. He broke the American in the next one following a fantastic return and Kudla's forehand mistake.
Firing from all cylinders, the 21-time Major winner painted another forehand winner in game five to cement the break and open a 4-1 gap. Denis produced a serve & volley combo in the sixth game to reduce the deficit before Rafa placed a perfect drop shot on his serve and extended the lead to 5-2.
The American held at love in game eight, and the Spaniard wrapped up the opener with three winners shortly after for 6-3 in 38 minutes. Kudla held at the beginning of the second set before Nadal blasted an ace down the T line for 1-1.
Denis squandered his chances in the third game and sprayed a forehand mistake to suffer a break and push Rafa in front. A three-time winner closed the fourth game with a drop shot winner and earned two break chances a few minutes later.
Nadal seized the first to move 4-1 up and closer to the finish line. The Spaniard fired a forehand winner in the sixth game and held at love with another at 5-2 for a rock-solid start to the tournament.